Exile on Main Street

50 years old this week

I can take or leave The Rolling Stones generally but Exile is the exception. It’s so bloody brilliant isn’t it? Just a vast, shaggy canvas full of weird ragged beauty.

If there’s anyone who hasn’t taken the time to listen to it because they don’t think the Stones are for them I’d advise them to find an hour or so to give it a go.

The ‘big’ tunes like Rocks Off and Tumbling Dice and Soul Survivor are great obviously, but I absolutely love the weird little atmospheric things like this

13 Likes

most of the appeal is that it’s a big sprawling patchwork mess, and so it seems a bit daft to pick individual favourite tracks, but these are my individual favourite tracks

5 Likes

Absolutely. It’s impossible to pick one track (or even two or three) that can ‘represent’ it. The epic messiness of it is a big part of its charm.

5 Likes

easily my favourite stones record. that being said i don’t listen to many stones records, mainly this and sticky fingers.
anyway, love this record, so many great tracks on it.

2 Likes

also one of those records that takes me back to those days of youth and nay responsibility wi yer pals hanging out, getting drunk/stoned and trying to be a band. :relaxed: :heart_eyes:

2 Likes

Still one of my favourite albums, Keith’s deranged backing vocals (and occasional lead vocals) are the secret ingredient

2 Likes

Happy is a great song - Keith’s lead vocals are amazing on that and Mick’s deranged backing vocals are great too.

2 Likes

Billy Preston’s organ and piano on Shine a Light are so amazing. Just an incredible song.

1 Like

actually i’m gonna stick it on now. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

You won’t regret it.

1 Like

Start to finish the best Stones album for me, and one of my favourites of all time. Despite the fact it contains very few of their big essential tracks.

The whole thing is just incredibly fun to play through, especially with a few drinks.

3 Likes

i’m 15 seconds and already delighted with my decision :laughing:

1 Like

Just finished listening to it and I’m already missing it

1 Like

I have always despised the opinion that drugs and decadence make great art. Believing that great art is made despite those things, not because.

Then I listen to this magnificent beast and it’s the only time I question that belief.

And let’s be honest, no-one was sober on this album, except Wyman (maybe). And as the years passed Jagger and Richard get more sober, as the albums get…not as good. Lousy really, for the most part. Painting by numbers efforts for the most part.

Definitely my favourite Stones album by a long shot. Probably because it’s the one Keith Richards had the most to do with.

Absolutely love it though. It’s the one that sounds most like they’ve strayed off the path into the muddiest, dankest recesses they could find and found out they loved it there.

Pretty much agree with all of that.

In a way I think the whole ‘story” of the record obscures how great it actually is. It’s the talent that makes the music, not the drugs. I think in their case the concentrated excess and the other circumstances surrounding the recording probably loosened them up and led to them making a less ‘controlled’ record than they would otherwise. Jagger famously writes the record off and hates how messy it sounds but of course that is what is so great about it. The really key thing is how talented all the people involved were though.

Interesting you mention how Wyman was the only sober one - it’s striking how little he actually does on the record. He’s actually on less than half of the songs. Mick Taylor plays bass on four tracks, Keith on three, and there is upright bass (played by Bill Plummer) on another four. I’m no Stones expert but I always wonder whether Wyman was actually any good. When you watch the Goddard film of them recording Sympathy For The Devil you can see that Keith plays the bass and Bill occasionally shakes a tambourine in the background.

Big mad nuts album. I like all of the big 4 Stones albums a lot, and can get on with pretty much any pre-Ronnie Wood stuff they did. I think most of their albums from that era feels like there’s some deliberate effort to put together an album and have some sort of cohesion to it and sequencing has been considered. Exile weirdly feels like they didn’t think about it, they were just completely out of it and going along with whatever happened, and having a great time. For a big 70s classic rock double album from a massive band at peak fame there’s pretty much no rock star ego or pomposity or studio fuckery on it, they’re just cutting loose. Paradoxically, the feeling of there being no curation of what gets into the album and what goes where, is also what makes the over an hour length of it never feel like it drags. It’s a really long time to be listening to all this weird shit with no other reason for being than “we’re fucked up and we wanna scream about filth”, and it just works, it’s just really fun and really interesting and grotesque.

4 Likes

It’s interesting, because everything you say is true, and it is a messy, sprawling ragtag record, but on the other hand you could argue that it is much more cohesive than, say, The White Album.

Despite all of its various textures and moods there is a definite feeling of the core of the group working together and deeply informed by a deep love and real understanding of what you might loosely call ‘American Roots’ music - blues, gospel, country etc. Weirdly a group of white boys from Kent uncover the links between all of those things and yet also make them into something new.

You never feel that anyone is trying to show how clever they are, or how radical and edgy they are, or how they can write a hit or a ‘classic’ song. It feels like they are doing what they doing because they genuinely love it and, just for a brief period perhaps, they don’t really give a fuck.

3 Likes

love this record.

two fav cuts from it are torn and frayed

& ventilator blues

4 Likes